Dinner with Elmo and the Sesame Street Parade at Seaworld and GIVEAWAY!

(Make sure to read to the bottom for an awesome giveaway!)

a few weeks ago, we headed down to San Diego to check out the debut of the all new Sesame Street Party Parade at Seaworld. we also had dinner reservations at the new Dinner with Elmo and Friends, so we were really excited. our family was most excited to introduce Dani, our littlest to Sesame Street. it would be her first time meeting all the characters.

we love a lot of things about Seaworld, they do so much good for our oceans and environment. we visited last year and got to witness first hand some of they great things they do. we especially love that Seaworld has included Sesame Street more and more into the park. they already have the Sesame Street Bay of Play, which is filled with family-friendly fun and rides like Elmo’s Flying Fish, Oscar’s Rocking Eel and Abby’s Sea Star Spin. so adding the Sesame Street Parade and Dinner with Elmo and Friends was a perfect addition!

Sesame Street Party Parade

first up, we found some seating along the Sesame Street Party Parade route. everyone was excited to see it for the first time…and let me tell you, it was a hit! the kids loved seeing their favorite Sesame Street pals sing and dance down the street.

fun highlights of the parade included audience participation – where the kids got to run out onto the parade route and dance and play games with the Sesame Street friends, getting to wave to all our favorite characters, and a giant Elmo float at the end of the parade.

Dinner with Elmo and Friends

after the parade, it was perfect timing to head over and have a special Dinner with Elmo and Friends. did you know that you can make reservations far an additional cost and enjoy dinner and photo opps with your favorite Sesame Street Pals? neither did we. but it was so much fun and a very special experience.

Dinner with Elmo and Friends is and exclusive dinner for guests in the park to have a dinner buffet and also meet the Sesame Street characters up close and personal. there is a whole lot of giggles, hugs and dancing. the dinner buffet features a fresh salad bar, pasta, Fajitas, sides, desserts and more. there is something for everyone to enjoy – from adults to kids to babies.

everyone can find a seat in the banquet seating area and enjoy the food and coloring activities provided on the table. the kids loved the dinner buffet because they could get whatever they wanted. so that means unlimited dinner rolls and breadsticks LOL.

did i mention that there is a dessert station where you can make your own cookie ice cream sandwiches! it’s a Cookie Monster’s dream, with giant cookies of all varieties and ice cream that can be used to make a cookie ice cream sandwich.

once everyone has been seated and are eating, the Sesame Street characters begin to arrive. they come to the tables and say hi to the families and dance in the aisles. i suggest getting the kids to eat as soon as possible, because once the characters start to arrive, all the kids want to do is play with them. there is no getting them to eat after that!

we had so much fun with the Sesame Street gang…it really was a special experience. the parade was fun and really well done, i highly recommend if you have a Sesame Street fan in your home.

GIVEAWAY!!!!

here is your chance to win a family 4-Pack of Tickets to SeaWorld San Diego!!! just enter via Rafflecopter below or on Facebook. contest ends June 1, 2018 at midnight. winner will be chosen randomly and must be 18 years or older and a resident of the United States. Good luck!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{Disclosure: We were invited guests of SeaWorld. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}

 

The Legoland Castle Hotel is Coming to Southern California

earlier this month, i had the chance to check out the construction progress of the new Legoland Castle Hotel that will soon be opening at Legoland California Resort in Carlsbad. i have a bunch of boys who can not wait for it to open this April 27th…the are VERY EXCITED! let me tell you, it’s going to be amazing. if your kids love Legos, they will be in Lego Heaven. and i wanted to share with you some photos of the hard hat tour i took to give you an idea what to expect.

if you have ever stayed at the current Legoland Hotel, then you have some experience of what it will be like to stay at the Legoland Castle Hotel. although it is similar, there are also many unique features and cool improvements that you will only experience at the Castle.

here is a sneak peek of the lobby. it will be set up separately from the rest of the hotel and will of course have Legos and fun things for the kids to do while the parents are checking in.

here is what it looks like right now…but don’t worry, it will be complete very soon. use your imagination to envision the Lego slide that will be built next to these stairs. fun!!!!

next up, we headed over to where the new restaurant will be located in the hotel. the Dragon’s Den, is a first at LEGOLAND California Resort. it will be the resort’s first full-service sit down restaurant. the head chef explained how the restaurant would be set up and how the food will be locally-sourced, creating a unique dining experience.

it will include an open kitchen for guests to watch chefs preparing their food. plus, it will be decorated with amazing LEGO models, and LEGOLAND entertainers will interact with guests. breakfast will be included with each guest’s stay and includes made-to-order items along with a buffet. here is what is will look like…

located next to Dragon’s Den restaurant, there will be a play area for kids and also Jester’s Bar. i am sure this will be a favorite area for adults and kids alike.

then we headed over to where the The Royal Courtyard will be locate. this is where hotel guests will be able to sit and relax, children will be in a fairy tale of their own creation with a DUPLO play area for the younger kids, larger play structures for the older kids, giant movie screen for nighttime movies, and a stage for live plays and shows.

there will also of course be a pool area! it will host a gradual incline pool and hot tub, plus a pool bar and grill that will offer smoothies, sandwiches and salads prepared fresh to order.

oh!!!! if you have been to the LEGOLAND Hotel, then you totally know what i am talking about when i tell you my kids favorite thing to do is ride the elevator. as with all things Lego, there are surprises at every turn. that goes for the elevators as well. when i say the construction of the elevators, i wanted to hop in a see what cool thing happened inside, but i guess i will have to wait. they did tell me that is will be a wizard theme. how exciting!

finally, we were able to check out the rooms!  there will be 250 premium LEGO Castle themed rooms with your choice of Knights & Dragons, Royal Princess or Magic Wizard. i personally can’t wait for a princess room. after years of all boys, i want to share this room with my little girl. my boys are hoping to stay in a Magic Wizard room. and unlike the current LEGOLAND Hotel that offers standard and premium rooms, ALL of the rooms at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel will be premium. they will be fully decked out with Lego sculptures and themed deco, a separate kids’ area with LEGO building tables and scavenger hunt in every room, and bathrooms with a tub, shower and toddler toilet seats.

doesn’t this all look like an amazing family-friendly hotel!!! i can definitely tell you it is 100% family-friendly. they have thought of everything.

it was a fun checking out the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel construction, it only made me more excited and i can’t wait to experience it in its finished form with my kids…they are going to love it. just a few more months and we can!!!!!

and guess what?!!!!  you can already book your stay. the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel will be ready before you know it. Southern California is so excited for April 27th.

{ This is not a sponsored post. I was an invited guest to check out the contruction. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}

A Weekend Road trip to Los Angeles with Chevy

This is a sponsored post.

last month, Chevy invited our family to take a road trip anywhere we wanted in Southern California. i immediately knew that i wanted to head up to Los Angeles for a weekend of exploring and enjoying the LA sights and sounds. because, although it is only 30 miles north from Orange County…it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours+ to get there. it makes me sad that it isn’t easier to get to L.A. on a more regular basis. so spending a weekend in Los Angeles was the perfect solution for some bulk L.A. adventures. PLUS…Chevy outfitted our family with a brand new Chevy Traverse to enjoy during the weekend to make our road trip a lot more comfortable. it had all the latest gadgets and gizmos, plenty of room for our family of six AND all our luggage, a stroller and baby gear.

let me tell you…the road trip was so much, and i wanted to share some of the great spots we visited. next time you are in L.A….be sure to check some of these out.

Universal Studios

we started our road trip at Universal Studios Hollywood. it’s one of my favorite Southern California amusement parks. it’s very family-friendly if your kids are over 42″. a baby makes it hard, but you can still find it enjoyable if you have little ones.

since we went during December, Universal Studios was decorated for the holidays. Grinchmas is a favorite of ours, and visiting Who-ville, meeting the Grinch, and playing with the Whos is a tradition we have done every year. Universal does a great job of creating a real-life Whoville. there are shows, treats, photo opportunities, crafts and character meet-and-great happening all day long during Grinchmas.

then we headed over to the Studio Tour which takes you through the backlot where they make movies and television shows. this is the boys absolute favorite thing to do at Universal Studios Hollywood (besides the Jurassic Park ride). it’s very nostalgic and has some great attractions along the way such as King Kong, Earthquake, and the Fast and Furious. you even get to wear 3-D glasses.

and Dani got to meet Marilyn Monroe!

we spent time in the park checking out Simpson Land and some of the stage shows, then headed to our most anticipated land – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. if you are a Harry Potter fan, then you definitely need to make a visit. you feel like you have been transported into Hogsmeade. you can visit all the stores, taste some Butterbeer (we recommend the frozen Butterbeer), and use your wand around the village to cast some spells. during the holidays, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is decorated for Christmas.

check out Hogwarts castle during the day. pretty spectacular! but during the holidays, it gets even more spectacular at night with Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. the iconic Hogwarts castle is transformed into a dazzling light projection spectacular.as the sunsets, a light show is play on the Hogwarts castle with themed graphics and magical music. it plays multiple times every evening and lasts about 10-15 minutes. it was FANTASTIC!!!!!

after the show, everyone was tired after a full day of fun. we headed to our hotel. we stayed at the Boulevard Hotel which is conveniently located near Universal Studios.

apparently, there have been many stars who have stayed here!

The Griddle Cafe

the next morning, we wanted to have a breakfast experience, and check out a Hollywood breakfast hotspot. we decided on The Griddle Cafe on Sunset Boulevard. they are know for their giant pancakes and french toast….and boy are the BIG!

you know you’ve picked a popular breakfast spot when there is a long line at 8 am on a weekend morning.

check out this menu! wow…it was super hard to choose what to get.

so we ordered A LOT!!! we decided on Cap’n Crunch Pancakes, Banananana Pancakes, Cream cheese french toast, hot chocolate, cheesy omelet with avocado and pico de gallo. YUM YUM and while we waited for our food to arrive, the boys had so much fun watching the fancy cars race down Sunset. i think they saw about twenty Lamborghinis. i highly recommend sitting outside if it’s a nice day.

woahhhhhh!!!!! you think we ordered enough?

at the end of breakfast, we had only made a tiny dent in our food. our eyes were way bigger than our stomachs. we definitely ordered way too much, but still…it was so so good.

after breakfast, we hopped into our Chevy Traverse, and took a drive down Melrose. if you are looking for cool art our wall murals, you will find a bunch on Melrose Avenue. the “street art” is amazing in Los Angeles, and the boys love to get their pictures taken with it. as we drove down Melrose, if someone saw something they liked, we stopped to take a picture.

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Another Reason to LOVE California

there’s no hiding how much i love California. it has the mountains in the north…some even with snow, there’s the inland desert area with unique trees and cacti, beautiful sunny weather in SoCal, the most amazing coastline and the central valley filled with orchards and rolling hills. i believe that California is one of the most unique states in the U.S. it has unique landmarks, diverse geography and one-of-a-kind weather patterns….i love living here so much. which brings me to mention California’s produce. you might not realize this, but California grows most of the produce for the entire country. i recently had the opportunity to tour some of the California farms located in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys, and was once again blown away by the extraordinary abilities of our state.

with the beginning of the New Year, many of us have made resolutions to eat better and healthier. this probably includes eating more fruits and vegetables. did you know that California is the only state that can grow a lot of the produce we eat ALL year long?!!! it’s pretty amazing. California has pockets of land with unique climates that are perfect for growing produce for our country. California’s Imperial and Coachella Valley’s are so unique…they are one of two places on Earth that has a mediterranean climate. let me share a little bit about what i experienced in these special valleys.

Farm Tour of the Imperial and Coachella Valleys

to cut down on travel time, we took a small chartered plane from San Diego to the Imperial Valley.

the flight was short, only thirty minutes. if you aren’t familiar with where the Imperial Valley is located, it’s in southeastern Southern California, largely centered on the city of El Centro. it’s just north of the Mexican border, slightly southeast of Palm Springs, laying just south of the Salton Sea. as we flew into the valley, i was impressed to see the terrain change from brown desert sands to rows and rows of lush green farmland. what is this place i thought? how is it possible to grow such wonderful produce in the middle of the California desert.

the answer is – the Colorado River. the Imperial Valley is literally below sea level. the nearby Salton Sea was created by a flood of channeled water from the Colorado river into the Imperial Valley basin in the early 1900’s. the valley is bordered by sand dunes and mountains, and the Salton Sea lies within the borders. it is fed by irrigation drainage from farms served by the Colorado River – which is what makes it possible for farmers to grow produce in this desert oasis. i learned a lot of this information from Marion Champion, of the Imperial Irrigation District, and found it very interesting.

our first stop in El Centro was at Jack Brothers, one of the Imperial Valley farms. it was very interesting to talk to the farmers and learn how they farm in the Imperial Valley. the crops looked fantastic, and we were able to first hand how crops were harvested. every farmer has their specialty in produce the like to grow, some grow organic, some share fields, and they all work together as a big community.

we learned how they farmed using irrigation from the Colorado River. aqueduct channels help bring water from the river to the fields. the farmers have gotten really good at saving and recycling water from their fields. there is good and bad in this. good because they are saving water…but it’s a double edge sword, since there is very little water run off into the Salton Sea. now levels in the Salton Sea are dropping. so they are currently trying to figure out how to prevent this from happening. hopefully the politicians and land councils can figure out a way to keep the water coming to the Imperial Valley and also conserve water in the Salton Sea. this is really important.

many of the farms are family owned and passed down from generation to generation. this was the case for the next farm we visited, Lawrence Cox Ranches.

they grow a lot of the produce that we find in our grocery stores and restaurants. one of my favorites was the broccoli. it was so fresh and yummy eating it right out of the field.

we also got to see harvesting in progress. check it out….these workers are harvesting lettuce that will be distributed at Wendy’s around the country.

next, it was time to head north about 60 miles to the Coachella Valley to visit a couple more farms. an hour later, we arrived at Hadley corporate Headquarters, where we met with Albert Keck. Hadley’s grows some of the best dates. i remember visiting Hadley’s when i was little…we always got to get date shakes, dried fruits and nuts.

it was harvesting week at Hadley’s, so we got to see them packaging the dates for shipment, and talked about how they are grown, harvested and about the workers who make it all happen. it was great to learn that these workers love working at Hadley so much that they stay there many many years. the work is hard, but the pay is much higher than the norm.

the best part of the tour…we got to try some dates. yum yum! it was really awesome to learn about the date trees and how they only will survive and produce in a climate such as Coachella Valley’s. next time you are in Palm Springs, stop by and have a date shake.

our final stop was at Desert Mist Farms. we met with Jeff Percy while we enjoyed the view. rows and rows of produce. artichokes, peppers, blueberries, brussels sprouts and more.

i learned that in order to pick a good artichoke, you want it to be more tall than wide. the bigger the petals and the less there are from top to bottom, the more meat you get it. the petals should also be tight together, that means it was freshly picked. if you squeeze it, you may hear a squeaky sound. the best way to eat them is to cut off the top inch of the petals and to steam them for 20 minutes. now all i want to do is make some artichokes!

farmers are very proud of their produce….and they should be.

Desert Mist Farms is part of Ocean Mist Farms’. you probably have come accross their produce in your local grocery store. be sure to try out their Season & Steam line of fresh vegetables if you see them. they make meal preparation easy peasy. and if you would like to read a little more about Ocean Mist Farms’ Natural Resource & Sustainability initiatives, head over to their website.

what an awesome experience to get to go on this special Farm Water Tour. it really is amazing what these farmers do and how they are able to farm in California. we really live in a magical place…i’m so glad to call California home.

Wanna learn more about California farming? Chelsea from Someday I’ll Learn was on the tour with me and wrote a great post about here experience. check it out – 7 Things I’ve Learned from Farmers

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Our Visit to SeaWorld in San Diego

a few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to take the kids to their first visit ever to SeaWorld in San Diego. we were invited to check out the park, the new improvements, shows and rides, plus take a tour of the SeaWorld Animal Care center. my boys were so excited because they love animals so much…and being up close to animals not only is amazing, but inspiring. these kind of experiences are what make people want to help the animals…and that is exactly why my kids love them so much. (make sure to read to the bottom for a great giveaway!!!!)

we started the day at the touch tank in the front of the park. there you can experience hands-on with the sea life. there are tiny fish that will suck on your hands and sand sharks. plus we got to see shark eggs with baby shark growing inside.

next up we met some land animals that were rescued by SeaWorld. a penguin and a screech owl. we were not allowed to touch the screech owl, but she was sure cute.

after learning about the land animals, we headed over to Dolphin Days, the dolphin show at SeaWorld. it wasn’t so much a show, but a learning experience about dolphins. we got to see different varieties of dolphins and pilot whales, and also learned how the animals are trained and cared for. did you know that the animals are only taught with positive reinforcement. there is no punishing them for not doing what the trainers want. everything the dolphins do is because they want to…and they looked so happy!

after the show, we got a special experience. we got to meet one of the dolphins…and wow, he was such a character. he let us feed him, take a picture with him….

and then he gave the kids a surprise LOL. SOAKED!!!!!!

when it came to eating and meals at SeaWorld, there are a lot of dining options including Dine with Shamu. our family got the All-Day Dining Pass which was perfect. you can get an entreé, a side dish and a non-alcoholic drink as often as every hour if you want. it’s a great price too. the kids were excited to get treats like these Shamu cookies!

one of the kids favorite parts of the day was visiting the SeaWorld Animal Care Center. they got to learn about the amazing things the SeaWorld team does to help animal around the world.

the goal of the SeaWorld rescue program is and has always been to medically rehabilitate and return all animals back to their home in the wild. on average, SeaWorld San Diego comes to the aid of over 300 to 400 marine animals every year – including sea lions, seals, dolphins, whales, sea turtles and sea birds.

we learned how it is important to keep garbage and plastic out of the oceans, and to make sure it is properly disposed of. when sea life ingests it, they can become sick. we also met one of the dolphins who was being rehabilitated.

SeaWorld San Diego has rescued more than 17,000 animals over the history of the park, and all the SeaWorld parks have rescued more than 30,000 animals in the last 50 years. the SeaWorld rescue program is a primary example of the passion SeaWorld has for the lives of all animals, and it was such a treat for the boys to ask the SeaWorld staff  questions about the animals.

you can’t go to SeaWorld without seeing the SeaWorld Orca Encounter. it takes place in a ginormous amphitheater where you learn about the Orcas, their history and behaviors. it’s not a show, more like an informative discussion. Orcas are so beautiful.

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